Few landscapes are quite so inspiring as the rugged terrains of Iceland, and the country's musical output has proved itself suitably groundbreaking and unlike that of anywhere else on Earth.
Featuring the collaborative prowess of four of Calgary's finest indie musicians working in tandem with two of Reykjavik's most intriguing up-and-comers, the SonicWaves project captures a talent exchange unlike any experienced by our city before.
Calgarians past-and-present Clinton St. John, Samantha Savage Smith, Laura Leif (via Toronto), and Woodpigeon's Mark Andrew Hamilton (via Vienna) working alongside Reykjavik's Benni Hemm Hemm and Prins Póló will premiere works developed during a residency exchange in Iceland in the weeks before the High Performance Rodeo and solidified with further exploration together in Alberta.
While Calgary's prairie vistas and the otherworldly sights of Reykjavik couldn't be more different from one another, SonicWaves aims to prove the language of music is one internationally understood.
Calgary (via Vienna)
Woodpigeon was coined in 2005 to shelter a revolving cast of Mark Hamilton’s musician comrades as they coalesced around his first songs. Since then, five full-length albums and at least a dozen other recordings have been released into the wild under the Woodpigeon banner. Hamilton, sometimes with guests but often alone, has toured Europe and North America alongside several artists (including Withered Hand, Jose Gonzalez, Iron & Wine, Grizzly Bear, Broken Social Scene, and Calexico), and been on the bill at a few festivals (Sled Island, The End of the Road, Haldern Pop, Field Day, Pop Montreal). The Woodpigeon entity has been involved in theatrical, cinematic, and performance events and featured on productions by many purveyors of fine musical exposure (CBC Radio, BBC, Radio France, Le Blogotheque, Black Cab Sessions, Bandstand Busking, Southern Souls, XFM and more).
Benni Hemm Hemm
Benni Hemm Hemm is the band of Benedikt H. Hermannsson. He writes the band´s songs and produces the band´s recordings.
The band is an organism that is hard to explain. Its members are in total around 300. At shows the size of the band is usually somewhere from 3 to 40.
Benni Hemm Hemm was born when he released the SummerPlate E.P. in the summer of 2003. The E.P. was a solo release, produced by Benedikt H. Hermannsson. It was released in 30 copies.
The first performance of the big band of Benni Hemm Hemm, was on the 1st of May, 2004, at the 5th birthday of Kitchen Motors. And after that performance there was no turning back. In November the band started recording in Sundlaugin. There were seven songs recorded on 24 tracks on a very busy weekend. In May 2005 the band recorded five more tracks in the infamous Klink & Bank.
In September 2005 the Benni Hemm Hemm album was released in Iceland, on Smákökurnar. In early 2006 the album was released in Japan (P-Vine )and in Europe and the US (Morr Music).
In spring 2006 work started for Kajak. The album was written in a very short time, and recorded in June. The album was released in Iceland in November, on Smákökurnar. Early 2007 Kajak was released in Europe and in the US in May (Morr Music).
In October 2007 the band performed music to the film Berg-Eyvind (Mountain-Eyvind) at the Reykjavík Film Festival, composed for the event, commisioned by the Reykjavík International Film Festival. There were two performances at Tjarnarbíó, Reykjavík.
Benni Hemm Hemm has played in Tokyo, St. Gallen, Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Höfn á Hornafirði, Seyðisfjörður, Portland, Húsavík, Ísafjörður, Kyoto, Houston, Austin, Dresden, Seattle, Stokkseyri, Oslo, Berlin, Brighton, Cleveland, Stockholm, Paris, Washington DC, Dublin, Gothenburg, Hamburg, Diksmuide, Vienna, Copenhagen, London, Luxembourg, Edinburgh, New York, Rostock, Philadelphia, Frankfurt, Wilmington, Hannover, Köln, Glasgow, Atlanta, Phoenix, Akureyri, San Francisco, Malmö, Minneapolis, Chicago, Hoboken, Siglufjörður, Boston, Cologne, Strassburg, Cork.
Clinton St. John
A veteran of The Cape May and Pale Air Singers, Clinton St John's beautifully atmospheric and experimental indie folk offers the listener an aural experience akin to having an emotionally revealing, draining and ultimately rewarding conversation with your most well-read friend.
A musician and painter living in Calgary, the man known as Flemish Eye Records' poet laureate recorded with Steve Albini and toured across Europe and the USA as a member of Nina Nastasia's band before venturing out on his own. C.St.J's newest release, Storied Hearts And The Three Assimilations, is a sonic and visual epic that captures his talents as a lyricist, storyteller, vocalist and visual artist. It goes like this: a comet falls and people and animals metamorphosize together.
Calgary (via Toronto)
Talk about the most underrated of songwriters in Canada. Pioneer Girl of all things vibrant, Laura Leif delivers songs as a sort of throaty, prairie-born Joanna Newsom, where the mean indifference of Toronto unable to handle the openness of Ms. Leif, prompting this squamish outflow of ukeleles, guitars and windy voices. The foggy gloom of Nova Scotia, where it was recorded, seems to have infiltrated the tape of her newest album; Rough Beasts sticks like pinpoints across the Canadian map, like those very pinpricks of Leif’s slight vocal delivery. Legendary curmudgeon Calvin Johnston knows the deal, ’bout time you did.
Prins Póló is the brainchild and former alter ego of Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson (of Skakkamanage and Rúnk fame). Prins Póló started as a one man band but soon developed into a full band. Svavar Pétur is a graphic designer from Breiðholt (Reykjavík suburb). He worked on a farm as a child where he studied singing with a walkman and a shovel. He now designs stuff for Kimi Records and runs HAVARÍ with his lovers. The few moments he has to himself he changes his bottled up feelings into songs and puts them on tape. His latest album, Jukk, was released in 2011. You might wonder what Jukk means. Jukk is everything that does not have a logical origin. Jukk is a happening, state and/or entity that everybody knows and has perceived but can't explain. At some moment everything is Jukk.
Samantha Savage Smith
Samantha Savage Smith is a Calgary-based singer-songwriter, who released her debut album, “Tough Cookie” in April 2011. After a few years honing her craft on the West Coast and subsequently returning to her hometown in the spring of 2009, Samantha continued writing and performing new songs inspired by her love of classic interpreters such as Anita O’Day and Billie Holiday as well as present-day songsmiths like St. Vincent and Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.
Shortly after posting demos online and playing a handful of extremely well-received shows, word spread quickly in the Calgary indie scene of the young singer-songwriter’s immense talent. The online demos caught the ear of local producer Lorrie Matheson (Rae Spoon, Ghostkeeper), who was struck by her achingly beautiful voice, melodies and lyrics. After seeing her perform live, he saw the potential in Samantha for a long and fruitful career. He offered his services to assist her in the next step - the production of an album that would showcase her personal and poignant songs and the voice that delivers them.
“Tough Cookie” was recorded in 2010 at Matheson’s Arch Audio studio in Calgary. Backed by Chris Dadge, Scott Munro and Brooker Buckingham (who have lent their talents to recordings and live shows by Chad Van Gaalen, Rae Spoon, Ghostkeeper, Fake Cops and Woodpigeon), and featuring the back-up vocals of the Dudes’ Dan Vacon, the album incorporates her love of torch songs, classic blues, R&B and rock music.
“Tough Cookie” is an engaging debut that nods to Samantha’s influences while retaining her unique perspective and highlighting her original voice and talents.